2014 Ballot Issues

A View From Across the Potomac | 0 comments | by The Hawthorn Group

To Hawthorn Friends and Family —

Hawthorn’s political research director, Owen Berger, has prepared a timely summary of the ballot issues which will be decided in less than three weeks.

I hope you find it useful. Let us know if you need any further details.

John

 

As the 2014 election cycle enters its final month and we are inundated with polling and advertisements from the various Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races, less noticeable but equally important are the many initiatives and measures on state ballots this November.

There are 158 ballot measures in 2014, which is down from the average of 194 in even-numbered election years since 2000. The last time the number of ballot issues was below 160 was in 1988.

Nevertheless, in 2014, voters in 42 states will decide the future of 91 proposed state constitutional amendments, 35 initiatives, 20 legislatively referred state statutes, and 5 advisory questions, covering a range of nationally debated issues such as gun control, abortion, the minimum wage, medical insurance, and state drug policies.

The majority of these measures are largely local in nature and relatively uninteresting, but a number could have national implications, and more still will certainly impact voter turnout and enthusiasm in a number of already competitive state races. Initiatives and referenda are also often a reflection of the issues most on the minds of organized groups and activists in a state or region, and can drive the political debate in other races as well.

As most are aware, legalized marijuana – recreational or medicinal – is on the ballot in three states, Alaska, Florida, and Oregon; and the District of Columbia.

Aside from the District, 17 other cities have marijuana decriminalization or legalization on their November ballot.

Five states – Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota – have questions on minimum wage increases; as well as six major cities.

Two states, Colorado and North Dakota, have some form of “personhood” amendment up in 2014, and Tennessee has a proposed amendment giving the state legislature more power to regulate and limit abortion.

In California doctors and insurers have spent nearly $100 million to defeat two propositions, one raising the cap on medical malpractice damages and the other requiring the state Insurance Commissioner to approve medical insurance rate hikes.

Colorado and Oregon both have questions on mandating GMO labeling, and nationwide there are four counties and localities considering outright GMO bans.

In 2013, four Colorado cities voted to impose fracking bans. This year, voters in three localities in Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio defeated similar measures. In November, seven additional cities and counties in Georgia, Ohio, and Texas will decide whether or not to impose their own moratoriums. Natural gas advocates have been successful at keeping potential statewide ban initiatives off of ballots in Colorado and Michigan.

And in Washington, there are two competing gun control measures that both look likely to pass. Initiative 591 would prohibit the state from implementing stricter gun laws than those at the federal level, and Initiative 594 would impose a much stricter background check than currently mandated federally. It is unclear what will happen if both pass.

Below are some of the more interesting issues on the ballot this year, as well as some updates on how they are polling, where available.

Alabama

Amendment 1 – Forbids state’s recognition of laws violating its policies, including all foreign laws (“Sharia Law Amendment”)
Amendment 3 – Protects the right to bear arms; requires strict scrutiny of any restriction on the right

Alaska

Ballot Measure 2 – Legalizes marijuana
43% support, 53% oppose (Ditman Research, 10/8)
57% support, 39% oppose (Alaska Survey, 10/8)

Ballot Measure 3 – Increases Alaska’s minimum wage to $8.75/hr. in 2015 and $9.75/hr. in 2016
61% support, 33% oppose (PPP, 9/23)

Ballot Measure 4 – Bristol Bay Mining Ban
62% support, 33% oppose (Benson, 6/11)

Arizona

Proposition 122 – Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions

Arkansas

Issue 3 – Term limits to state house AND senate set at 16 years total, limits lobbying efforts by former legislators, limits campaign donations/gifts from lobbyists
25% support, 57% oppose (Hendrix College, 4/4)

Issue 4 – Legalizes manufacture, transportation, sale of alcohol statewide (many AR counties are still dry)

Issue 5 – Raises minimum wage to $8.50/hr. by 2017
55% support, 30% oppose (Suffolk, 9/24)

California

Proposition 45 – Requires approval by state insurance commissioner before health insurance rates can increase ($37M spent so far by doctors and insurers in opposition)

Proposition 46 – Increase cap on non-medical damages in malpractice suits from $250,000 to $1M, also requires drug-testing of doctors ($57M spent so far by doctors and insurers in opposition)

Proposition 47 – Reclassifies most non-violent crimes as misdemeanors
62% support, 25% oppose (PPIC, 9/1)

Community Fracking Ban Initiatives in San Benito, Santa Barbara, and Mendocino Counties

Colorado

Amendment 67 – Includes fetus as a “person” in criminal and wrongful death cases

Proposition 105 – Mandates the labeling of certain foodstuffs that contain genetically modified organisms

Florida

Amendment 1 – Provides funding for the Land Acquisition Trust Fund
78% support, 14% oppose (Florida Chamber, 6/11)

Amendment 2 – Medical Marijuana
51% support, 33% oppose (SurveyUSA, 10/2) [REQUIRES 60% TO PASS]

Georgia

Amendment A – Prohibits state from increasing minimum state income tax rate
57% support, 21% oppose (Sand Mountain Communications, 8/25)

City of Athens Fracking Ban Proposal

Hawaii

Maui County GMO Moratorium Initiative – Bans all GMOs in Maui County

Illinois

Minimum Wage Increase Question – Asks voters whether they support increase to $10/hr. minimum wage (non-binding advisory question)
69% support, 27% oppose (Chicago Tribune, 9/ 18)

Right to Vote Amendment – No person shall be denied the right to vote, establishes a number of protected classes for voting

Massachusetts

Question 3 – Repeals 2011 law allowing casino resorts
44% support, 49% oppose (UMass, 10/4)

Missouri

Amendment 10 – Prohibits the Governor from estimating available state revenues when making budget recommendations

Nebraska

Initiative 425 – Raises minimum wage to $9/hr. by 2016

New York

Proposal 1 – Creates a bi-partisan (appointed by state legislature) redistricting commission
No polling, but very controversial in NY as many argue it makes the redistricting process MORE partisan, not less

North Dakota

Measure 1 – Declares that “life begins at conception”
50% support, 33% oppose (UND, 10/3)

Ohio

City of Niles “Community Bill of Rights” Fracking Ban Initiative
Village of Gates Mills “Community Bill of Rights” Fracking Ban Initiative

Oregon

Measure 91 – Legalizes possession of marijuana, establishes state liquor board as regulatory oversight body
44% support, 40% oppose (Survey USA, 9/24)

Measure 90 – Establishes a “top 2” primary system (such as California’s)

Measure 92 – Labeling all GMO sold at grocery stores statewide
77% support, 14% oppose (DHM, 7/7)

South Dakota

Measure 18 – Raises miminum wage to $8.50, sets automatic adjustments for inflation

Tennessee

Amendment 1 – Adds language to the Tennessee Constitution empowering the legislature to enact, amend, or repeal statutes involving abortion
23% support, 71% oppose (Vanderbilt, 5/18)

Texas

City of Denton Fracking Ban Initiative

Washington

Measure 591 – Prohibiting implementation of gun purchase background checks more strict than at the federal level
55% support, 33% oppose (Elway, 4/13)

Measure 594 – Imposing stricter background checks on all gun purchasers
72% support, 19% oppose (Elway, 4/13)

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